October 11

The lead up to our Wedding

Finally got together the time & strength to write about what was an extremely stressful time – our big fat punjabi wedding!!! I will do it over two posts as it has taken me days to write this one alone!

I arrived back in Amritsar after a very long uncomfortable flight after having only just had surgery less than 2 weeks before! Sonu & Happy were at the airport waiting for me with big grins on their faces & I was so excited to finally see them again! Happy had a gift bag for me in the car containing a beer, a block of chocolate and a roll out scroll with a love letter on it!! I was so surprised! He is the cutest!

We went to what was now our new apartment in a suburb called Holy City (Happy & his Dad moved all our stuff to a nicer place while I was away) , they pulled up the car outside this giant mansion and said Steph this is your new home! I said “WHATTTTTTT NOOO WAY ITS AS BIG AS THE TAJ MAHAL!!” The car started up and drove off with them cackling laughing – tricked me again! I was so relieved to find our new place had a (cold) shower (no more bucket baths thank god) and aircon! The simple necessities that make life so much easier to deal with here!! the three of us sat on the roof chatting and gossiping until 3am and admiring the view of the two nearby temples lit up.

My first day back Happy had some things to do for his dad so I sat at the park opposite with Sonu the entire day until 8pm catching up on all the gossip and what had been happening while I was away, it was quite relaxing and nice to spend time with him as usually we are in a big group and then it’s hard to talk to anyone properly! We also had various visitors later that day all coming to see me now that I was back.

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That night we went to his parents house for dinner it was so exciting to see everyone again, his mum was waiting out the front for the big arrival then we drove into the garage and I went through the back door into the house and didn’t realise she was still out the front, she came running inside asking where I had gone!!! Haha she must’ve hugged me for what felt like about 10 minutes!!! I gave everyone the gifts I brought back and it felt like Christmas, Jap ran out the front and was screaming to the neighbours “CHACHI IS BACKKKKK!!!!!!!!”
As usual Shubh was taking selfies without me realising!

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The next day Pinky called and said today the wedding shopping begins get ready!!! I had no idea that night I would come home in tears! We went off to the markets and I had all my papers with what colour a design outfits my family wanted and we searched the shops for the right colours meanwhile I was running in and out of shops trying to get my msgs to send to my sisters to ask what they did and didn’t like , meanwhile the man in the shop getting very impatient with “unmmmmmm I’m not sure ummmmm wait I will just message Australia, oh it’s not sending hang on now we have to wait for them to reply” HAHAHHAA pinky was also getting fed up!!! Pip was definitely the easiest I text her a pic of patterned material and she replied “sold to the chubby lady in Palmyra!” And that was her done!! Haha. Kath had wanted a green outfit but we could not find the right shade in any of the shops! I ended up buying silk in the colours the others wanted and we took it to Pinkys cousins house where she has a boutique and said she could custom stitch designs on each outfit .
At the markets we also looked for shoes for me to wear and as usual couldn’t find my size – big feet!! Everywhere we went I had to ask for “full size” I finally found a pair I liked that fit but they were high heels! I said to the man “husband height problem” he said “no problem 10 minutes” threw the pair of the shoes up through a man hole and 10 minutes later they were thrown back down heel removed and were now flats!! I could not believe it, you really can get anything you want here!! Everywhere we went the boys were ringing telling us to hurry up – they never leave us alone in the market – over protective with safety!! On top of that we had differing opinions in every shop about what was and wasn’t good I kept saying my family don’t like so much gold!! Then at Harwinders house we spent hours trying to choose designs for the outfits with 4 people saying to me “that’s not good that’s good no not that” I couldn’t even think straight!!!!

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That night we went to order the cake and had 7 family members in the shop all arguing about which type of cake to order!!!! Some were adamant that we were having a cream marble swirl filling which to me sounded disgusting! I was so OVER it already and it was only day 1 of organising!!! I ended up loosing it and yelling MY FAMILY DONT LIKE CREAM NUP NOT HAVING THAT NUP!! NUP!! Everything they chose was indian style – covered in cream with cream filling – disgusting! I produced a photo from my bag I had printed of what cake I want ordered a chocolate mud cake and walked out! They all stood in shock and then back in the car told me I am very fussy! Hahahaha this is when I think I turned into bridezilla! I was saying I know what I like I am not stupid I have my own choice, they tend to treat me like a child at times, poor happy was stuck in the middle! Then In the car his family were saying to me we think you should only get simple churra bangles, simple red no sparkles, I cried the whole way home and said to them it’s all too overwhelming and your all too bossy I will choose things myself !!! That was a silent car ride the rest of the way!

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The next day it was the day we set off to choose my wedding dress (Lengha) it was pouring with the rain and most of the streets flooded, we trudged through ankle deep water from shop to shop looking like drowned rats!! We went to several shops I couldn’t decide what I wanted they all looked the same!? Finally at the 4th shop we spent 2 hours searching through their outfits and I finally found the exact one I loved! They had also given us sandwiches, tea, biscuits, coke, cake, the works!!
We ordered it and it would take 2 weeks to adjust to my size. I had a lot more fun this day, Pinky was much easier in the shops and we laughed the whole way round the markets we both have a similar sense of humour. I found out later Happy had given her a talking to that morning “let her choose whatever she wants and that’s it” that definitely helped me!!

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We then headed off to get my traditional Churra bangles ordered and a whole heap of traditional things we had to both wear on the day that I didn’t even know about!! I of course chose everything that had the most bling in rebellion of them telling me to go simple !! And not a word was said, I got them out to show them and said look how good they are !!!!! They all just burst into laughter hahaha and Sonu said “bhabi always gets her way”

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We then went to Jaskarans farm for the night to have a break, he recently bought a new tractor and made me have my breakfast and tea ON the tractor whilst he pumped out punjabi music through the subwoofers he had fitted to the sides of it!!! Loved it

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In between all the wedding arrangements we had a constant flow of visitors and whenever we had plans to go somewhere to order something we had someone knock at the door then had to make them tea or had 3 extras coming along with us to wherever we were going! Most people were coming to see me as I had only got back a few days before but we didn’t have time!!!! I had daily lists I made for happy & I of what we had to so, he ignored my lists and said he didn’t need it, I said no you have to cross off each item!!! He just laughed at me!! Hahahha everything was done the Indian way, slowly, and plans changed 100 times!

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We also spent one night at his parents house practicing tying Happys turban and what size he wanted to have on the wedding day!

Another pic above is another day organising and waiting around to be picked up to go places, his Dad fell asleep, I thought well YOLO I may as well have a nap too!

Pinky brought me red & green bangles that I had to wear on the weeks leading up to the wedding, they had dangly bits that got caught on ALL my clothes I was constantly attached to something so annoying!! And the jingling woke me up through the night! When she put them on me I said is there a ceremony for this? She said yep this is it! And flung them on my wrists hahaha
Days later Palvi asked why she wasn’t invited to the bangle ceremony – I told her there wasn’t one! She said “very bad very bad must be ceremony!! Pinky very bad!”
This is when I started realising there are a few underlying relationship issues between family members that I had never noticed before, the longer I have been around the more I am learning about each person

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Happy and the boys arrived home one night with loads of boxes which to my excitement were the fireworks for our night time party!!!! We did a tester and I screamed my head off hahaha fireworks at close range!!! Only in India!

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We also had to finish handing out invitations to everyone and this involved going to each persons house with a invitation, box of sweets and sitting there drinking tea & eating! There’s no “fling it in the letterbox and drive off quick” like we do in Australia!! This took so much time! I went to a few houses and it was 38 degrees stinking hot humid and I was over it and pretended to be not feeling well, got dropped home and chilled out all arvo having some time to myself finally!!! Happy and the boys were giving out invites until 10pm at night, we ended up running out of time and happy started texting photos of the invite to people!!! All things that could have been done while I was in Perth but I had to bite my tongue! Hahaha

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Happy & I found it quite difficult trying to find places to organise the lights, catering etc for the night party as we had no contacts! We started outsourcing!! I rang around to his cousins & even cousins friends asking who knows a dhol drummer! Vishav said leave that one to me!!! TICKED THAT OFF! One of Happys friends had an uncle that did catering and a friend who did lights so he organised all that we went out to his restaurant and chose all the food and he gave us a big bag of testers to take home! Our night party was originally planned to be on Jaskarans roof in his village (no sound complaints) then it was changed to Happys village then they changed it to our house in the city (more central) it changed over 12 times and as we organised things we had to tell people location to be confirmed! This was another thing I had to let go of and say to Happy “you guys decide and let me know final outcome! ” it wasn’t until 4 days before the wedding the night party location was secured to be at our house in Holy city! Haha they love chopping&changing!!!

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The day time reception at the hotel was the easiest event to organise they did everything we just chose the stage decorations and the menu and they did the rest! Brilliant! We did have a few disagreements with the hotel manager trying to choose the menu himself and I was saying “no no no” happy gave me a nudge under the table! I was not being difficult I just didn’t want anyone choosing the standard menu if it wasn’t what we wanted, Happy loves to just go with the flow!

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Pinky & I booked the man to come to the house to do our henna and she was saying to him yes Saturday morning 9am, I was thinking NO NO NO that doesn’t go with my schedule (that she has never seen) and secondly I have every single day planned out once my family arrive!! I said to her Friday afternoon !!! She said no no Saturday, I once again had to put my foot down And said “NUP!! Busy Saturday!!! It’s Friday 2pm thanks” got up and walked off! It’s the only way to get your own way around here!!! I was getting so sick with daily having to really fight for my own choices and just over it all !!!! Happy and I were constantly bickering daily about the family interference in decisions and he was basically just stuck in the middle the poor thing!

Happys Dad arrived one day and said ok we are off today to book the temple! When they came back Happy said we just have to fill out this form and attach our passport photo etc for our certificate, then drop it back. I said to him you seemed to go there and come back so quickly!? He said yes it’s just next door! Oh ok so they’ve booked the temple next door to our house not the one originally decided on and printed in the invitations! It made me laugh and there was a few arrangements I just had to let go of and stop trying to control otherwise I would go mad!

I went to check on my families outfits and they were all coming along well, my outfit for the night party took 6 days and nights for them to stitch by hand!!!! (Mine is red, Kath purple, mum blue)

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Happy went to get the car serviced before my family arrived and it took him longer to come back than expected, meanwhile Pinky, Happys Daddy & I were waiting at home to go to the jeweller to choose the gold my family would give to Happy and the gold his family would give me (on the wedding day), I had made tea, brought out biscuits then was running out of options so I made his dad a big bowl of popcorn, he said when I finish this if he’s not back we are going by bike! So off we went the three of us on one bike to the jeweller ! I am sure I giggled the ENTIRE way there I was wedged in the middle and his dad commented that he had his two moti daughter in laws on the back! Moti means chubby! I could not stop laughing I had a giggling fit I just couldn’t shake off and his Dad laughed the whole way too telling me to stop giggling or we would all drop off! At that point I was thinking to myself if only my Dad could see me randomly wizzing off on a bike with two people, one with a big turban and beard and moustache! Hahaha

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One night Happy & I were at Pizza Hut having dinner when his mum rang to say we need to move the date of the wedding because she just realised it is a 2 week religious festival going on and it’s bad luck to have the wedding during that time and we would only have to move it 2 days! I burst out laughing at the thought, there had already been SO MANY changes and happy went off saying you chose this date we are NOT moving it her family are coming in 3 days from another country not another village!!!!!!! His mum was in tears I felt sorry for her!!
When we went there the next day his dad asked me can we move the date I said I’m sorry but no we can’t it’s too late now he just said Ok leave it with me that’s fine. He is such a calm mediator!

The day before my family arrived was a mad rush picking up my lehnga bangles happys turban and all kinds of orders we had, at the shop happys dad decided to order a whole new outfit and turban 3 days before the wedding and made me choose it hahaha typical! Everything about the entire event was done last minute no matter how much I tried to organise them

I was starting to get sooo excited about my mum, sisters, Aunty & Katherine and her mum arriving I couldn’t wait to have my own group and people I could speak English with!!!!! I went to the shops getting them snacks and goodies and then the day came they finally touched down we saw their plane fly in above our house it was so exciting!!!

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Katherine, her mum Yvonne and my Aunty Joan arrived at lunchtime from the UK and as we left the house to pick them up the car wouldn’t start!!!! Typical never a dull moment !! Happy and I went by motorbike to the airport, his cousin got someone to come fix the car then I got a taxi back to the hotel with them!! It was the last thing we needed to happen!! Katherine, her mum and I rushed off to the shops to get them outfits made for the wedding, we had so much fun! We were looking for one dress for Katherine, ended up leaving her mum alone 5 minutes and she was then also having one made!! The man who served us kept bringing us tea and cool drinks and was so helpful!

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I nearly bought a new magenta coloured punjabi suit, until Sonu called and was outside, I thought I was sprung! every time I am about to waste money they catch me out!!!
He dropped Pinky off to us and we all walked to Shimla market to buy some new sparkly earrings and bangles for them to wear to the wedding ! Pinky is the pro at bartering down the price and often pays the shop owner what she believes it’s worth then just walks out !

We Raced back to the hotel, we all went out for a yummy indian dinner at El Dorados then went home and got changed then off to the airport again to pick up Mum & my sisters! Their flight was on time and they were already outside when we came racing around the corner in the car which was finally fixed !

The next morning we all headed off to Shimla market again to get jewellery bangles and earings for their wedding outfits! It was hard explaining to pinky they just want to browse! She wanted to know exactly what they were looking for and why they kept looking at things but not buying anything, it’s different to home where you can just take your time browsing! Everyone kept heading in different directions some were hot some were tired some wanted to keep going, it was a different shopping experience for pinky that’s for sure hahaha

That afternoon we raced back home in time for the henna (mehndi) party at our house, lucky I had decorated our house before hand and the man was already there waiting for us when we got back! We all sat around chatting eating pizza and having designs put on, I also got to take off my red & green bangles and give them out to everyone to give them goodluck! Katherine’s snapped as soon as she put them on which was so funny! His Aunty, cousins, nieces and everyone arrived and also had it done it was so much fun slowly having the two families meet everyone!

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That night we raced off to Harwinders house so everyone could try on their outfits and have alterations done, then Pip Kath Happy Shubh and I went to our favourite El Dorados for dinner we were all exhausted from such a long day!

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The plan for the next day was to go out to Jaskarans farm at Madu Chhanga and then head to the golden temple then Happys parents house for dinner . But no! At 10pm that night his family called “cancel that, let’s do golden temple 9am then lunch at our house & churra bangle ceremony that way everyone has an early night before the wedding”. Easier said than done! Jaskaran was upset we bailed on his tractor ride plans! And the “lunch” at their house ended up with us going home at 10pm!!!

The day before the wedding I was like a headless chook, I slept with the henna still on overnight and woke up to what felt like a sandpit all the crusty henna had dropped off through the night! Sonu arrived with the second car and we headed off to pick up everyone from the hotel, arrived there to realise I left my handbag at home! Off they went back to get it! The golden temple was beautiful as usual but such a boiling hot day!!

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We went back to the hotel to change before going to Happys parents house to meet the entire Chhina family! My sister Kath and best friend Katherine put on two of my Punjabi suits for fun then I realised where’s my outfit!! Left that at home too! So off Sonu went again back to get it!

We arrived in Jhanjoti village at the Chhina’s house by about 1pm and everyone exchanged gifts, his family had all the gifts confused and mixed up and I had to spend half an hour in the spare room writing names on bags hahhaha !! Organisation skills definitely lacking in that house
His family were so excited to have them all finally in the house after waiting months and months for the big arrival!! They made tea and pakoras and all kinds of snacks sweet & savoury. Then his dad and uncle took everyone for a tour around the 5 family houses that are joined together and they slowly met the entire family and had a drink in each house! Sonu had asked me if anyone in our family wanted to drink alcohol – because they had bought a lot just incase! They must think westerners are alcoholics!! I told him yes my friend Katherine loves to drink!! No matter which house or room we were in he would appear at the door with a “special coke” for Katherine and beckon me out or wink for us to collect it, I was in fits of giggles every time and would subtly try and pass it to her but her mum Yvonne caught us every time “is that a special drink!!!” So funny ! We were trying to drink In secret as alcohol is frowned upon and women in the Chhina family definitely do not drink! But at the same time they are very accepting of us and do realise we drink, it’s just polite to be a bit secretive about it. Sonu loved his job title for the day as bar tender, we ended up having to beg him not to bring anymore incase we started slurring our words!

After a few hours being guided around I could see my family were probably ready to leave soon and we were most probably no where close to leaving as they hadn’t even served lunch and it was 5pm!!! This is the slow village life I told them all !! They now realised why somedays I message them bored out of my brain climbing the walls – we are just not used to such a slow pace and so much sitting around, Happy’s family have an amazing amount of patience!

We had lunch/dinner all together which was delicious and felt so surreal having everyone all sat in Happys house with me for the first time! One of his cousins told me she was so happy to see me so happy & excited with my own family, I felt so proud having them all there with me and so pleased that our two families were able to enjoy the event together when we were unsure for a long time if it would ever be possible .
They set up the dining room table for everyone to sit at which had never been used!! His family were so nice and did everything they could to make sure my family felt comfortable and welcomed. His mum even asked me quietly if my family thought they were all ok! I said you are much more than OK and my family are very happy!! She was delighted. After dinner happy said “now my dad will show you how he fixes his moustache” and on cue his dad curled up the ends of his big thick white moustache!!! It was hilarious!

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After dinner around 40 relatives all flocked into the house and it was finally time for my churra bangle ceremony, traditionally done by my father or brother, Happy’s eldest brother Sonu stepped in for me and put on my very sparkly bangles and fed me sweets then we had several photos with all relatives sitting beside me feeding me sweets ! I felt so shy with the paparazzi photos going off but it was so much fun at the same time, at the end there were a few tears wishing Dad could have seen it all happening.

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At 10pm Sonu & Happy dropped us all back to the hotel and I slept in Kaths room the night before the wedding, I was beyond exhausted !! Mentally & Physically drained but so excited all at once, there were quite a few tears that night!

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To be continued….

***please excuse the grammatical & spelling errors – I have written this on my iphone with unreliable wifi and just hope for the best it uploads ok! ***

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